My heart goes out to victims

Rye and Battle Observer letters
Rye and Battle Observer letters

From: Paul Courtel, Elizabeth Court, Bexhill

My heart goes out to the bereaved, the injured and the displaced in the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London.

I commend the brave and highly professional actions of the emergency services, once again running into the face of danger to rescue the injured and the dying.

I salute the many people in the local community who have actively helped the displaced. As with the recent terrorist incidents, local communities and our nation have come together in the face of tragedy or hate.

I commend the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, the Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour, Islington North), for visiting and comforting the distressed residents of Grenfell Tower so soon after the tragedy.

I also salute the Labour Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, for his sensitive response when he visited traumatised and angry former residents of Grenfell Tower.

I particularly admire Her Majesty the Queen who, at the age of 90, wasted no time in showing heartfelt empathy when she visited the displaced and the injured.

In contrast, our Conservative Prime Minister visited the scene of the tragedy but displayed glacial contempt for the bereaved, the traumatised and the displaced by failing to visit them and engage with them.

Admittedly, she appears to have attempted to rectify this. However, her earlier gaffe appears to display a marked lack of empathy for the people she is elected to represent.

Jeremy Corbyn is right in stating that the truth has got to come out. In this context, I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement of a public enquiry. However, according to various media sources, some facts already appear apparent:

Many residents of Grenfell Tower repeatedly expressed concern at the lack of adequate fire prevention arrangements.

However, the arms-length company set up by the Conservative-controlled Borough of Kensington & Chelsea to administer social housing appeared deaf to their concerns.

The London Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, which appears to be the United Kingdom’s wealthiest Borough, made a surplus on its social housing (rents and other income, less costs). Yet it failed to use this surplus to address fire safety.

A coroner ruled in 2013 that all high-rise buildings should be fitted with automated sprinklers. But over four years, successive Housing Ministers delayed reviewing United Kingdom fire regulations.

I would argue that the Government has some culpability for this failure.